The main things to look for are offset and blade material, followed by making sure that the set you purchase has a durable construction if you plan on using them often. There’s nothing more satisfying than cutting sheet metal or aluminum by hand, and the right pair of snips (make sure you know what the colors mean) will have you finishing the job with minimal effort but the wrong ones will leave you with a nasty, jagged edge that’s not suitable for anything other than demo work.
Here we review the 4 best aviation snips on the market, and we go into what qualities you should look for after our recommendations.
Stanley FatMax 14-563 9-7/8-Inch Straight Cut Aviation Snip
If all you’ll be needing are a pair of snips for fairly straight cuts, the Stanley FatMax has you covered. They’re of high-quality construction and come in at a budget price of less than ten dollars. It’s not a suitable set of snips for tight corners or ducting, however, but if all you need to do is slice up some sheet metal then Stanley has you covered at an amazingly low price.
DEWALT DWHT70278 3 Pack Aviation Snips
DeWalt makes quality tools, and this three pack of snips definitely lives up to the brand’s reputation. Three packs are quite nice, as a general rule you’ll receive a straight pair of snips, one designed for right handed cuts and one designed for left handed. They’re (see full specs) made of quality materials and the price is more than fair, coming out to a bit less than $10 per snip. They’re not the absolute best, but you won’t beat them for the price. They’re likely the best aviation snips for the money.
LENOX Tools Snips, Aviation, Bulldog (22105105)
LENOX snips are some of the absolute best you’ll find anywhere, and the pricing shows it. This is a pair of Bulldog snips, meaning that they’re not made so much for fabrication as for plowing through thicker material with a surprising amount of ease. If you’re looking to cut something thick or do some quick notching work, this pair is exactly what you’re looking for. Hands down, they’re among the best sheet metal snips and aluminum snips you can buy.
Bessey D15-SET Compact Aviation Snip (3 Piece)
For those who are looking to make regular use of a set of snips, this set from Bessey offers great value and still comes in at a reasonable price. The color-coded handles (see full specs) are standard and they’re a bit smaller than regular snips which makes them ideal for those working with more precise projects. If you’re looking to cut sheet metal, leather, or copper for more artistic purposes, this set definitely won’t let you down.
Selecting the Best Aviation Snips for Your Needs
If you’re looking for some snips, chances are you have a project in mind. While a lot of technicians get by in the field with just a big pair of Bulldog snips in some fields, this can be unwieldy and no one really likes having to deal with the jagged edges sometimes produced.
Most of us are better off with a set. Interestingly, the color coding (see article) of the handles is pretty much the same across all brands. Yellow snips are made for straight cuts, although they can work in a pinch for wide turns that might need to be made. Red and green are made for both straight cuts and right and left cuts respectively. As long as you respect that rule you’ll be in good hands.
There are also so-called “bulldog” snips which allow for an impressive amount of pressure to be transferred to the blades. They’ll allow you to tear through quite a bit of material that you wouldn’t normally be able to cut through by hand, but they’re generally not ideal for making particularly long cuts in material due to their design.
There’s really not a lot to compound snips, but they can be a bit harder to use than less advanced cutting tools like scissors or standard tin snips. The key to getting a clean cut is to apply pressure to the handles quickly and smoothly, the design of the snips themselves will cause quite a bit of bending if you don’t manage to get through the metal quickly.
That’s not a flaw, it’s a feature, in that it allows you to tear through thicker mental than you’d normally think possible by ripping them back and forth. It’s perfectly fine for a lot of rougher applications like cutting ducting, but you’ll need to determine just how much you can get through if you’re planning on using your snips for more intricate projects.
One of the coolest things about them is that they can cut through almost anything with a surprising amount of ease. Leather and plastic will fall apart almost as soon as you press the handles together, and more than a few people have found that straight snips are one of the easiest way to get through dreaded clamshell packaging.
This puts them into the unique category of being useful for both the artisan and the handyman without regard for materials. Many of us have found them just as useful for arts and crafts projects as they are for more practical applications.
A Tool for Everyone
The best aviation snips are really something everyone should have in their tool box, much like a screwdriver or hammer. They’re one of the basics and improvising their usage with other tools can range from unwieldy to absolutely impossible depending on the material you’re looking to cut. With even a cheap set added to your home’s capabilities you’ll never find yourself regretting the purchase.
We strongly recommend a set for most people, but if you’re just going to pick up a single pair straight cutters or bulldogs are the way to go. Bulldogs in particular will let you power through tougher materials than you’d normally be able to with even the strongest of shears or scissors.
What are you waiting for? Get a set today and greatly add to the cutting capabilities of your home. Good luck!